Thursday, 21 April 2011

Canongate Myths

Before I embark on my A-Z of mythology, I'd like to introduce you to the Canongate Myths. It's a wonderful little series of novellas (though some of them are more like novels in my opinion), written by a range of top notch authors, that retell myths from around the world.


These books are my special treats, though I am running out of them to buy and therefore try to ration them out. It all started with Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad which I read because I've always loved the tales from The Odyssey. It's the story of Penelope from her point of view whilst her husband is off fighting in the war. I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone, even those not usually interested in Atwood or Greek myths.


Not all The Myths are to everyone's tastes but I enjoy them all out of curiosity at least. Orphan's of Eldorado is lacking quotation marks around speech (a trait of Portuguese) and I wasn't familiar with the legend of the city of gold (except for that 80s cartoon and I don't think that counts), so I struggled a bit. I think The Helmet of Horror was a bit over my head in places but it reminded me of the early internet days of MUDs (multi user dimensions, what we used before MSN). A colleague found the title the most amusing thing ever and still brings it up a year on (if you don't get it, consider your mind smut-free).


I believe it is the brainchild of Scottish publisher Canongate however the books are published by 40 publishers around the world in a variety of languages. So I urge you to try a myth, you might just fall in love with the series like I did.


Click on a cover to go to the relevant Goodreads page for each book. The ratings seem all over the place so don't be put off if your favourite myth has a poor average. I still think they are worth reading for the ideas and/or writing.

The next myth will be Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt (due out in September).

2 comments:

  1. I am seeing a pattern here. I visit your blog and my reading list grows, hmmm. Not in the same category as it's classed as sci fi but Dan Simmons Ilium follows the Illiad. I actually bought the Illiad and Odyssey after reading it (still to read those). I do like the idea of books based on myths. I almost bought The Penelopiad a few months back (was trying to be good and will power won for a change).

    Oh, and it took me a few minutes but I did eventually get what was so funny about that title. Not sure if that makes me half smut-free or just slow.

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  2. Using my Goodreads shelving logic, Ilium's in the same category for me. I thought it was quite ambitious though I spet the first 100 pages not knowing what was going on. Simmons has a habit of putting in made up words and expecting you to know what they are! Couldn't keep up with all the charaters either, but to be fair I'd probably feel the same way about The Iliad.

    I ended up liking the parts inspired by The Tempest the most.

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